BOTH Ardstraw and Strabane Athletic will resume their respective league campaigns today (Saturday) with the ultimate goal of being crowned NI Intermediate League champions for the first time in their history come May.
Eamon Curry’s Athletic are well placed in second, two points behind table-toppers Magherafelt Sky Blues having won four and drawn two of their six games thus far.
It’s been an relatively impressive campaign to date and Curry, who took over from Neil Carlin at the start of the season, will be hoping his charges can kick on the second half of the season.
Strabane also have the small matter of a League Cup semi-final against Trojans and should they come through that will meet Maiden City, recent winners of the Craig Memorial Intermediate Cup, in the showpiece final.
Things are also looking up for Ardstraw. Following a poor start to the season, not helped by the flood damage to their Vaughan’s Holm pitch, the Newtownstewart based outfit appear to have got their act together in recent times.
Ivan Sproule’s charges are now up to third and the former Hibernian professional is hoping his team can get themselves into a position to challenge for the title over the course of the coming months.
Today the ‘Straw men host Dungiven and Sproule will be looking for his players to strengthen their hand by securing another three points.
While the Sky Blues are riding high at the summit, Sproule sees Maiden City and Strabane Athletic as the teams to beat.
Magherafelt and Athletic are both unbeaten, while City have played only two games – both of which they have won – owing to impressive runs in a couple of cup competitions.
“At this stage we are sitting third, I know Maiden City have games in hand,” he added.
“Now that I know every team in the league and given our position maybe winning would be a step too far but challenging for the title is definitely an aspiration.
“We are now turning teams over. We don’t play the likes of Strabane and Maiden City until four or five games down the line so hopefully we’ll be meeting them with a whole lot more points on the board and we’ll see where that takes us then.”
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE